By Ryan Velez
A new report from Axios covered by Black Enterprise says that rapper-turned-mogul Jay-Z is launching a new venture capital fund. Born Shawn Carter, Jay-Z is reported to be partnering with venture capital firm Sherpa Capital, which has invested in companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Slack. He will also be partnering with longtime business partner Jay Brown, president of Roc Nation, for this latest endeavor. At the moment, the main focus of the fund is going to be seed-stage funding of tech startups, which the duo is already well-versed in, having been serving as angel investors for the last five years.
According to CNBC, Jay-Z’s history of tech investments is marked by plenty of financial success and reward. One of his most successful to date is his participation in Uber’s 2011 Series B funding round. At the time, Uber was only valued at $300 million, but it has now grown to $66 billion. Through his entertainment company Roc Nation, Jay-Z has made several tech startup investments, including the private jet rental company BlackJet and French audio equipment company Devialet. He also has separate investments in many other companies as well, such as the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets team.
Matching the success of his investments is Jay-Z’s business ventures. One of the most high-profile examples is Scandinavian streaming service Tidal, which he purchased for $56 million two years ago. Reports show that Tidal is struggling against its rivals like Spotify, but Sprint recently agreed to acquire 33% of Tidal for about $200 million in early January. Time will tell how much Sprint’s involvement will change Tidal’s fortunes, but for now, it makes for quite a payday for Jay-Z.
While Jay-Z may be one of the most high-profile examples of celebrities who have become tech investors starting venture capital funds, he hardly has the monopoly on this idea. Fellow rapper Nas—real name Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, has backed more than 40 startups across a range of sectors, like financial technology, healthcare, and music production through his venture fund QueensBridge Venture Partners. NBA star Carmelo Anthony has also dipped his toes in the venture capital world. Teaming up with businessman Stuart Goldfarb to launch Melo7 Tech Partners, he has invested in companies including Lyft, SeatGeek, and Whistle. Whistle is a GPS tracker that you can put on your pet.